Who We Are
Articles - Health
Free MFZ Kits
MFZ in India
Woodstock Animal Rights Movement
A Store For Life
P. O. Box 746
Woodstock, NY 12498 USA
Carbohydrates and Fiber
Dr. Neal Pinckney
Fiber is essential in reducing the risk of some kinds of cancer,
intestinal disease, gallstones, diabetes, obesity and heart disease.
Fiber is a carbohydrate that has no calories, as it is not metabolized
by the body.
Starches and sugars that can be absorbed and used for energy are
carbohydrates (Fiber is a form of carbohydrate that does not produce
energy). For many years it was mistakenly believed that starches were
the cause of weight gain, and as a result many people tried to reduce
their weight by reducing their intake of carbohydrates. Food scientists
have since learned that we can maintain optimum health and fitness if we
increase our carbohydrate intake to 75% or 80% of the calories we eat,
and at the same time reduce fats and protein. A simple way to understand
the principle behind a comparison of starches, fats and protein is to
realize that all carbohydrates have 4 calories per gram, whether sugar
or a starch. Fat has over twice that, 9 calories per gram. An 8 ounce
baked potato has 1 gram of fat and 25 grams of carbohydrate, giving 110
calories. A 4 ounce lean beef hamburger patty has 24 grams of fat and
almost no carbohydrate, giving 350 calories.
The body converts dietary fat into body fat more efficiently than it
converts carbohydrates into body fat. Studies show that when the body
gets 100 extra calories from fat, only 3 calories are used to convert
them, with 97 calories burned for energy or going to storage as fat to
be used later for energy. For every extra 100 carbohydrate calories you
consume, about 23 will be burned up just in processing them. Only 77
calories will burned or stored as fat. When you eat carbohydrates your
chance of storing their calories as fat is more than 20% lower. Even
better, since carbohydrates have only four calories a gram, while fat
has nine, you can eat over twice the amount of carbohydrate-based food
than fat-based food and still get fewer calories.
The body turns almost all carbohydrates into glucose, the primary
fuel of the body and the dominant sugar in the blood.
Simple carbohydrates are sugars. It doesn't matter if they come from
fruit, vegetables or honey, they all have about the same nutritional and
caloric value. These are sometimes called empty calories because
(with the exception of black strap molasses) they have little
nutritional value. Dietary sugars are broken down into their simplest
form, glucose and fructose, and are absorbed into the cells for energy.
Complex carbohydrates are glucose molecules usually combined with
fiber, cellulose and starches. They provide more nutritional variety
than simple carbohydrates and are a major source of dietary fiber, which
is not found in animal products. Soluble fiber is an important factor in
lowering blood cholesterol, but it has become an increasingly smaller
part of the typical American diet, mostly due to the popularity of white
flour, which has very little fiber. Whole wheat flour and other whole
grains are rich in fiber and complex carbohydrates. Two slices of whole
wheat bread has about 140 calories, while a typical soft drink has about
150. A soft drink is basically sugar (simple carbohydrates) while whole
wheat bread is made from mostly complex carbohydrates, dietary fiber, a
variety of vitamins, minerals and essential amino acids. While some
sugar is not harmful, we can get all of the sugars we need from fruits,
vegetables and whole grains.
Carbohydrates are often believed to be fattening , but they are not
nearly as responsible for weight gain as fats are. Cakes, pies and baked
sweets usually contain more fats than they do sugars. Pasta, rice and
beans have about 20 grams of complex carbohydrate per half cup, cooked,
and not one gram of sugar. Potatoes, peas and corn have 12 grams of
complex carbohydrates per half-cup, and only 3 grams of sugars (simple
carbohydrate). Most vegetables are high in fiber, low in sugar, and
almost all are rich in complex carbohydrates.
There are two types of fiber:
Sponge-like insoluble fiber, from grains, legumes, fruits and the
outer surface of some seeds, promotes food passage and adds bulk, which
reduces food craving. Processed grains and foods often have most of
their fiber removed. Use whole grains, brown rice and unprocessed foods
to assure sufficient fiber intake. Whole wheat bread and brown rice have
three times the fiber of white bread and white rice.
Soluble fiber acts as a filter to help prevent some substances,
including cholesterol and glucose, from being absorbed into the blood.
It also acts as a stool softener, preventing constipation, which is
related to colon cancer and diverticulosis. Constipation often leads to
straining to clear the bowels, a common precursor of strokes. Eating
foods high in fiber may help prevent these problems and reduce
cholesterol as well.
Fiber binds to bile acids, which contains cholesterol eliminated by
the liver and is excreted if enough fiber is present. Not enough dietary
fiber leads to a lack of bile/cholesterol binding, allowing cholesterol
to be reabsorbed back into the bloodstream, where it can damage
Fiber increases the viscosity of intestinal contents and slows down
the interaction between starch and enzymes. This slowed digestive
process decreases the glycemic index of foods present and reduces the
rate and level of blood sugar increase. The reduced blood sugar levels
also reduce insulin requirements. Following a high fiber, low glycemic
diet can usually eliminate or reduce the need for drugs to manage type 2
Refined and processed fruits and juices may also be low in fiber.
Comparing an orange and an 8 ounce glass of reconstituted frozen orange
juice, the juice has 0.848 grams of fiber while the orange has 9.790
grams, more than 11 times the fiber in the juice. A fresh orange also
has a third fewer calories than a glass of orange juice. A few juices do
contain high amounts of fiber; unfiltered carrot juice has about 75% of
the fiber of raw carrots, but suprisingly tomato juice can have even
more fiber than raw tomatoes.
Most spaghetti noodles and other pastas are made from white flour
from processed grains, which have two-thirds of the fiber removed and
much of the nutrtritional value missing. To get all the natural fiber
and benefits, choose whole-wheat pastas, bulgar wheat and other whole
grain products. For maximizing weight loss, eating foods high in fiber
is even more essential.
Meat and all other animal products do not contain fiber, no matter
how tough and chewy it is.
Recommended fiber intake varies from 25 to 35 grams a day. If one
eats a balanced vegetarian diet, with whole grains, legumes and
vegetables, it is not usually necessary to take any kind of fiber
Dietary Fiber (grams) in
Kidney Beans, cooked
Potato, raw, with skin
Apricots, with skin
Source: Fiber value from plant fiber in foods, Second edition. James
W. Anderson, M.D. Nutritive Research Foundation, Inc. P O Box 22124,
Lexington, KY 40522.
Dietician, nutritional expert and chef Jeff Novick, of
Florida's Pritikin Center, has compiled the following guide will help
you estimate the fiber in your diet.
Vegetables 2-3 grams per:
½ cup cooked or 1 cup raw
Fruit 2-3 grams per:
1 medium piece of fruit (apple, orange)
½ grapefruit, banana
½ cup diced, frozen, cut-up fruit
Beans 4 - 7 grams of fiber per ½ cup cooked
Nuts and Seeds 1-2 gram of fiber per 1 oz (about 2 tablespoons)
Unrefined Complex Carbohydrates 3-5 grams of fiber per:
½ cup cooked starchy vegetable (peas, corns, potatoes, yams)
½ cup cooked whole grain (rice, oatmeal, barley)
Refined Carbohydrates ~1 gram of fiber per:
1 oz bread product (1 slice whole wheat bread)
½ whole wheat pita or bagel
1 oz dry cereal
Many dry cereals have misleading amounts of fiber in them as much of
the fiber is supplemental fiber that has been added to the "refined"